The 5 Things We Need To Stop Saying

1. I look terrible

“I look fat,” “I look awful,” I look so ugly,” or any variation on the faux self-deprecating mantras of pretty, thin girls everywhere need to go. There are only two possibilities in this scenario.

1. You are a svelte, attractive girl who is saying this purely to bait the flood of compliments that are sure to come her way, reassuring what she already knew about herself and bolstering her already bloated self-esteem. (This constitutes about 99 percent of this phrase’s usage.)

2. You are actually looking particularly unattractive or overweight, and you have now put the listener in a position where they are required to lie to you. We all know that “Yeah, Carol, you’ve really looked particularly shitty these past few days…that breakup must have been really hard on you,” is not an acceptable answer. We are required to placate the other person at the expense of our own honesty, and it’s incredibly uncomfortable.

Now, I am guilty of this myself (it would be incredibly hard to find a woman who hasn’t caved to the codependent pressure once in a while), but I try to avoid it at all costs. If something is going wrong that is actually taxing my ability to present myself in a way I’m happy with, I find it far more constructive to focus on the problem and not the symptom (i.e. I thought we were going to be together forever, I really loved that job, this leprosy is hitting me harder than I thought it would, etc.).

And please, please avoid taking photobooth pictures of yourself and captioning them with some variation on how unfortunate you look. That picture had 84 outtakes, you chose the most casually flattering, you know you look good. They are the perfect version of yourself that you imagine would mildly disappoint a prospective internet date upon meeting you in real life, no need to attach “Ugh, just woke up, Starbucks is just going to have to deal with this”. Whenever I see a photo like that with the ridiculous caption, I’m always tempted to find a photo of them on Facebook that some cruel friend tagged of them where they actually do look like the heavier, more sallow version of themselves. I then want to link to that photo, saying “No, you look beautiful in this photo. However, in this one, you look like you just shotgunned a 30 rack of sweetened condensed milk.”

2. Ok…

This has to go. Ok… has got to go. There are no five more passive-aggressive characters in the English language than this siren song of the indecisive loser. I am so tired of being in an electronic conversation with someone (where all intonation, inflection, expression, and body language are already out the door), saying something that requires some opinion or feedback, and being met with this cop-out of a response.

You clearly don’t like what I said, disagree, or have some opinion of your own to add but either lack the gall or the character space to express it. I don’t care what you have to do, I don’t care how many pages long your text is going to be or how long I’m going to have to watch the little Skype pencil squiggling, I want to know what you have to say. Even if it means you have to find me in the real world and speak to me with your human voice, even if it gets to that point, it’s worth it not to be left with this dead weight of a statement. Use your grown up words, ellipses are for quitters.

3. Maybe

Look, we’ve all had bigger names on the other line at some point or another. We’ve all been falling hard for the gorgeous, sarcastic guy with the chest piece and having far too much afternoon sex to see our friends. I know that, in a perfect world, we would be able to honor every minute commitment and no one’s feelings would get hurt, but it’s a world we don’t live in. Let’s leave out the obvious Roman orgy of lies that is Facebook events for a minute and talk about real-world invitations (which I hear still occasionally happen in smaller, sustainable-farming-based communities).

If I text you to ask you to do something in the near future, and you respond to me with some variation of maybe (usually sugar-coated, something to the effect of, “I would LOVE to, but I may have a thing on Friday night, I’m not sure yet, I’ll get back to you Friday afternoon!”), I’m going to take that as both a no and an insult.

Not only has maybe become the get-out-of-jail free card for things you’re not sure you want to attend, but our usage has also dumbed the word itself down to a slightly blurry version of “No, this does not sufficiently interest me.”

Even if I were playing into the ridiculous idea that “I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to be doing something Friday night” is a legitimate statement (do people pop out of your closet on Friday morning, put a jawbreaker in your mouth, and drag you to the Grizzly Bear concert?), it still wouldn’t make maybe a reasonable answer. Your answer should be, “No, I can’t commit to this right now, please don’t base your plans around the idea that I will come. If this changes, I’ll let you know, but I want to keep that night open for something incredibly fun and sexy. You’re not invited.”

Well, perhaps you don’t need to be that cruel, but we could all stand to be a little more honest with each other about what our plans are. Let’s save “maybe” for the times that really need it, like “If I wanted to organize an ecstasy party, and I bought all the supplies, would you invite your hot younger sister?”


Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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  • Rans

    I'm literally over it, ok…

    • jenn

      lol so you're hovering directly above “it”?

      • Jenna

        #6 lol

  • Michael Koh

    “like” “whatever” “I don't care”

  • Jordan

    100000% with you on “over it.”  The people most likely to say they're over something are the people most likely to be saying it again in 1-2 week increments.  It just reeks of psuedo-confidence, if people are “over” things they're either not talking about them or talking about them constructively and objectively because they really have come to some sort of solid position in their head.  “Over it” means really, really involved in “it.”

    Also with you on everything else, but the pervasiveness of “over it” recently has really got me perturbed.

    • Sang

      I completely agree with you. If you're over something then you don't talk about it. Its common sense.  I think people are just use to hearing the phrase thrown around so much they forget the meaning behind it.. well maybe that or their just not too bright :/

  • Sang

    Great read.  I think about the dumb shit people say all the time. Its irritating and annoying.   I'm glad other people see this! 

    I'm soooo over it… 


  • Heather

    I thought for sure Swag would be on this list.

    • Sang

      wow it should be!

      • wackomet

        are you kidding? swag is so good to say

        try it


    • JJ

      like, “swagger?”

      Yes, so 'over it.'

    • MM

      you can borrow some swag from me…

  • JJ

    I don't know why, but I cringe every time somebody calls something “the jam.” As in, referring to things they like, (“this turkey sandwich is the jam. I love it”; “that bar is my jam, I go there every week”).

    • Kyle Angeletti

      haha I use that exclusively to sound obnoxious

  • Lverhage

    This is a brilliantly
    written article and I was laughing so hard at my desk at work that I had to
    explain what I was reading to a few of my coworkers, which prompted them to
    read the article on their own and they too were laughing themselves to tears.
    Especially the “Ok…” paragraph! Seriously smart writing and I don't
    know if you intended to be overtly funny, but your sharp wit and criticism of
    these generic ways we go about expressing ourselves, was very refreshing! I'm
    going to keep an eye out for more of your stuff! Thanks for the great read to
    keep my mood up during the workday!

  • Stefanie J

    MAYBE. Absolutely. I fucking hate when people say maybe. I think Ryan O'Connell wrote something recently being like “if people on Facebook stopped responding “Maybe Attending” on events they know they are/aren't going to, the world would be a better place” annnnnd I totally agree with that and with this.

  • kzspygv

    All right! Finally someone is following through on these cute li'l concept pieces and SAYING something. I get so bummed when I click on “5 Things About New York Subways” or whatever and there's a few lazy anecdotes.

    MAYBE – Definitely needs to go. I've made it a point to commit to my engagements in recent years and I actually get flack for it. If promise someone on Tuesday that I'll go to their party on Friday, I don't flake because someone else calls on Thursday. It's rude. And it's reached the point where Thursday-bro doesn't understand that. “Who cares if you promised? Don't go. Go to my thing blah blah blah…”

    LITERALLY – The mister and I used to use “literally” as a joke to describe things that were similar. If a lady at the market looked like my mom I would say “That woman is literally my mom.” Eventually we spotted some guy crossing the street in front of us who looked like an old coworker of ours. “That guy is literally Brent Freeney.” I said.
    “Wait a second” my boyfriend replied “that IS Brent Freeney.”
    “What? So that's literally LITERALLY Brent Freeney?”
    “Holy shit.”
    We thought we created some sort of language black-hole and got really scared, then felt really stupid and made it a point to stop using that word like assholes.

  • Luke Bourassa

    While I know some people cry wolf and don't know how to properly use “literally,” I've literally never heard anyone do so in person (only online vids, etc.). I would chose not to associate with anyone who would use “literally” when they meant something figuratively. It's akin to marking an email “urgent” when it's not.

  • Bema

    -I'm over it. 

    -Over what?


  • nbh

    I'd add “actually”, “really” and the inverse “virtually” as meaningless verbal variations of “literally.” Each word has its own proper meaning but they all seem to belong to the same verbal diarrhea. I mean, I cringe each time I hear MYSELF use one of these words meaninglessly in conversation. 

    I'm certain the misuse of these adverbs says something revealing about contemporary culture…

    • MrPed

      The only thing the so-called misuse of those adverbs says about contemporary culture, is that contemporary culture is following the exact same rules of linguistic evolution as all former contemporary cultures. Get off your high horse and accept that the popular use of words is the ONLY use of words, because a popular meaning will eventually take over all other meanings, that's how language works.

  • Kyle Angeletti

    “Get on my level”

  • pamiel

    “Are you serious ?? ” has got to GO.

    • Sas Jam

      “Are you serious??” does not have to go so much as be re-worked.
      I'm talking at least once a day when someone you know, or don't know, is riding around on some dumb shit-
      Just go cold,
      stare at them without blinking for at least 5 seconds aaaand reply:
      “Are you fucking serious right now?”

  • Stefan

    why are these THE five things we need to stop saying, rather than just “5 things we need to stop saying?” also, do we NEED to stop saying them, literally? 

    also also, “there are only two possibilities in this scenario: you are a svelte, attractive girl…” is maybe not true. do you mean that there are, indeed, ONLY two scenarios, and the scenario in which a guy might use the “I look terrible” routine is not a possibility? or perhaps you meant that there are only two scenarios in which girls would use it, in which case, do only girls need to stop saying it? but also still curious as to why a cessation of this behavior is a NEED rather than a personal desire. maybe we need to stop saying “need?”

    also also also, what is the etiquette for the situation in which you're trying to make plans for whenever, but you're still trying to work it out with whomever you're doing whatever with, and someone else invites you to do something at the same time? what would you say instead of “maybe,” since apparently we need to stop saying it?

    • Viv

      God your comment is annoying

      • Stefan

        so is chelsea fagan.

      • guest

        chelsea fagan is the worst

  • A.

    My mom says “I'm so over it” and it is obnoxious.

  • Itsnotamatch

    what the hell is a chest piece?

  • modedossier

    And why aren't we friends.  I was beginning to doubt I would find someone who actually thinks that way.  But I would have to say saying “ok…” or “maybe” to me are big pet peeves.  It is usually met with “you can tell it to my face, yes or no?”

  • Duke Holland of Gishmale

    This is literally the best thing I have ever read.

  • Briana

    'I'm the kind of person that'…

    people who start sentences this way cause me to descend into what can only be called 'a hellish rage'

  • ;:.

    grizzly bear sucks

    • Javier Pickle

      your mom sucks

      • halfling_rogue

        Grizzly Bear's Mom Sucks!

  • goldglass

    I really don't think those folks have “bloated” self-esteem.

  • blah

    the first three are stupid, last 2 are so true and funny

  • Megan

    EPIC needs to be on here.

    • halfling_rogue


  • Sas Jam

    Stop trying to make “fetch” work.

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